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Did you know that two of the three (Eric Betzig and William Moerner) 2014 Nobel Prize Winners in Chemistry have their dissertations in ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global?

Betzig’s work, “Non-destructive optical imaging of surfaces with 500 Ångstrom resolution. (Volumes 1 and 2)” (PQDT Global ID: 8900863) and Moerner’s “Vibrational relaxation dynamics of an infrared-laser-excited molecular impurity mode ialkali halide lattices” by William E. Moerner (PQDT Global ID: 8210767), both are early reflections of the authors’ common passion for pushing the envelope in optical microscopy.

R. Eric Betzig was born on January 13, 1960, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In June 1983 he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. His Master of Sciences degree in Applied Physics was obtained at Cornell University in January 1985. He earned his Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Cornell in 1988.

William Esco Moerner was born on June 24, 1953, at Parks Air Force Base in Pleasanton, California. W.E.'s undergraduate studies occurred at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated, summa cum laude, in May 1975, with Bachelor of Science degrees in Physics and Electrical Engineering as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics. In January, 1978 he received the Master of Science degree in Physics, and his Ph.D. in Physics in 1982.

From the Nobel website, here is a layman’s summary of their award-winning project with colleague Stefan W. Hell:

“How the optical microscope became a nanoscope

Eric Betzig, Stefan W. Hell and William E. Moerner are awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2014 for having bypassed a presumed scientific limitation stipulating that an optical microscope can never yield a resolution better than 0.2 micrometres. Using the fluorescence of molecules, scientists can now monitor the interplay between individual molecules inside cells; they can observe disease-related proteins aggregate and they can track cell division at the nanolevel.

“…For a long time, however, optical microscopy was held back by a physical restriction as to what size of structures are possible to resolve. In 1873, the microscopist Ernst Abbe published an equation demonstrating how microscope resolution is limited by, among other things, the wavelength of the light. For the greater part of the 20th century this led scientists to believe that, in optical microscopes, they would never be able to observe things smaller than roughly half the wavelength of light, i.e., 0.2 micrometres.

“It is somewhat akin to being able to see the buildings of a city without being able to discern how citizens live and go about their lives. In order to fully understand how a cell functions, you need to be able to track the work of individual molecules.

“Theoretically there is no longer any structure too small to be studied. As a result, microscopy has become nanoscopy.”

Be sure to explore the research of past Nobel Laureates and other notable figures like Martin Luther King, Jr., Carl Sagan, and George McGovern, whose work is included in ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global — a collection of 3.8 million graduate works with 1.7 million in full text.

Read more on our Nobel webpage, and learn more about the 2013 Nobel Laureates that were included in PQDT Global. (You can also sign up for a free trial of ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global at that link.)

Nobel Prize® is a registered trademark of the Nobel Foundation.

06 Nov 2014

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